Getty Images

Svitolina beats Kerber, will face Wozniacki in Dubai final

Leave a comment

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Top-seeded Angelique Kerber struggled with a knee injury during a 6-3, 7-6 (3) loss to seventh seed Elina Svitolina in the semifinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Friday.

Kerber would have reclaimed No. 1 ranking if she won the Dubai title, but that seemed of secondary importance after her loss.

“I’m not thinking about this,” Kerber said. “For me it’s really important to be healthy.”

Kerber was not sure what caused the injury.

“I don’t know what’s with my knee now, but I feel pain a little bit,” the German player said. “At the end, I tried my best. This is how I am.”

Svitolina beat Kerber for the third straight match and advances to play 10th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who earlier reached her second consecutive final of the season with a 6-3, 6-4 semifinal win over Latvian Anastasija Sevastova.

Svitolina’s victory increased her winning streak to 11 matches. The Ukrainian won the Taiwan Open earlier this month for a fifth career title.

Wozniacki, a losing finalist at the Doha tournament last week, is seeking her 26th career title.

“Very happy how I have managed to get through these two weeks, because it’s been very tiring mentally,” she said. “The fact that I have just been staying in there and keep grinding, I’m kind of proud of that.”

The last time she reached back-to-back finals was at the 2014 U.S. Open and Tokyo tournaments, but lost both.

Wozniacki won the Dubai title in 2011 and has reached at least the semifinals in six of the seven years she’s played at the event, compiling a 22-5 record.

“I love playing here,” she said. “To have a finals here again, it just feels good.”

Raonic withdraws from Miami Open with hamstring injury

Getty Images
Leave a comment

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Milos Raonic has pulled out of the Miami Open after aggravating a right hamstring injury that sidelined him for nearly a month.

The No. 3-seeded Raonic withdrew before Sunday’s match against American qualifier Jared Donaldson, who advanced to the fourth round.

Raonic said his injury became progressively worse after his opening match, his first since Feb. 25. He expects to be sidelined at least two weeks and perhaps longer.

The Canadian said he hasn’t made it through an entire tournament healthy since Wimbledon last July.

Nadal advances to start bid for first Key Biscayne

Getty Images
Leave a comment

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Rafael Nadal’s first fist pump Friday followed his second point in the Miami Open, when he kissed a forehand off the sideline to win a long rally.

He accompanied the celebratory gesture with a skip in his step and then hit the accelerator, holding every service game to beat Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-4.

Thus began Nadal’s latest bid to win Key Biscayne.

“A lot of big motivation,” he said.

He’s playing the tournament for the 13th time and has never won it, although he was the runner-up in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2014. At 0 for 12, it’s Nadal’s longest drought at any event, and perhaps the most glaring gap in the 14-time Grand Slam champion’s resume.

Does it bug him? He won’t admit to any frustration, but lets slip that he still remembers the exact score when he was two points from the title in the third set versus Novak Djokovic.

That was six years ago.

“Against Novak – 6-5, 15-30,” Nadal said. “It didn’t happen.”

The Spaniard has always enjoyed the atmosphere in Miami, where Latin fans give him enthusiastic support, and he likes the tournament’s hard courts. He’s simply overdue.

“I’m trying my best every year,” Nadal told the stadium crowd after dispatching Sela. “I’ve been very close four times. I will try to give myself another chance.”

Nadal is 15-4 this year and pleased with his play. He lost to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, and again in the fourth round at Indian Wells last week.

Against Sela, Nadal served well, erased the only two break points he faced and overcame the occasional errant groundstroke on a windy afternoon.

“It was very difficult to find the right feelings,” Nadal said. “These kind of days, what you have to do is try to win. That’s what I did, and I’m happy with that.”

Making Nadal’s title bid easier will be the absence of six-time champion Djokovic and two-time champion Andy Murray, both out with elbow injuries.

But No. 3-seeded Milos Raonic is back. He won in his first match since Feb. 25, beating Viktor Troicki 6-3, 7-5. Raonic had been sidelined by a right leg injury.

“I’ve prepared the best I can for this tournament,” Raonic said. “I’m not necessarily in the best position right now, but fortunately it’s a long tournament. Doesn’t mean things can’t change and I can’t get better throughout this event.”

No. 2 Kei Nishikori beat Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-3. No. 7 Marin Cilic lost to Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

In women’s play, Elena Vesnina made a quick exit only five days after winning the biggest title of her career. Seeded 13th, Vesnina lost her opening match to wild card Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Vesnina beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Indian Wells final.

In a match that took two days because of rain, No. 6 Garbine Muguruza rallied past Christina McHale 0-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4. No. 3 Simona Halep beat Naomi Osaka 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. American qualifier Taylor Townsend eliminated No. 25 Robert Vinci 6-3, 6-2.